#meme15

5 Reasons I Love my Job

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For August 2012′s #meme15 topic, Jason asks that we write a few reasons why we love our job. Prior to this job, I’ve never found myself in the situation where I love it, so I am pleased to have the opportunity to wax poetic about now.

Let the haters hate…

Warning: In a previous post on writing, I explained that one of my rules for blogging was that I wouldn’t talk about politics. Another was writing about my work. Like all great writers, I’m breaking those rules now.

The [Final] Countdown

For those of you not in the know, I work as a Finance DBA for the DNC. Despite the DBA moniker, I actually have a combination of work that spans administration, development, reporting, and even web application development. Without further ado, the countdown!

  1. I got the job through the community. I’ve read stories of how the community has come together to help a fellow data nerd out in a pinch, but I never thought it’d happen to me. And it kind of didn’t. I had a job, so I wasn’t in a pinch. And I was being paid enough, so that wasn’t a complaint either. But I wasn’t happy. And for that reason, I owe Noel McKinney a beer every time I see him, because he helped change my life for the better.

  2. I get to work with SQL Server every day. I’m sure that may sound odd, but give me some leeway. In my prior position, I didn’t have the chance to work with SQL Server. Sure, I used management studio, and I ran scripts, but it’s not the same as digging in and solving problems. Since I had the skill-set, I solved problems as they arose, but I wasn’t a DBA. But it was always an emergency, and the talk about appreciation or a new role was always “down the road.”

  3. I get to work with more than just SQL Server. Back in 2011, I considered launching a startup. My idea continues to gnaws at me each day. So as much as I love learning about SQL Server internals, I also love building things. I think because of my background in Fine Art, I’ll always be somewhat of a developer at heart. (Heretical, I know.) But projects like our WebApp let me learn and sate my curiosity for the technical beyond SQL Server, and I am grateful.

  4. I feel like I make a difference. One of the complaints I have about my private sector experience is that I sometimes felt disconnected from the work. I understood the purpose, and the business goals certainly, but I’m a bleeding-heart Liberal at my core. I most enjoy my work when I feel that it’s helping people, and that doesn’t always seems to be that case outside of the non-profit sector. One may ask, “How does politics help people?” but I would posit that even if you don’t view it favorably, you can admit that it has an effect on your life.

  5. I get to combine my love of technology with my love of politics. I came to DC in 2002 for school and never moved back to Cleveland. I love Cleveland, don’t misinterpret me, and I will always consider it my home. But it doesn’t have the opportunity and excitement that DC offers. I love this city. I’m even more connected with the political process than I have been before, and it’s intoxicating. And the fact that it’s an election year, and I’m working for an organization that holds the same ideals that I do… well, the level of commitment and excitement often leaves me without words.

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It’s not one of those swank Evangelist jobs, nor do I often deep dive into administrata, but it’s my job and I love it. I’m working with SQL Server, I’m expanding my horizons, and I get to feel like I’m making a difference in the history of our nation. I can’t ask for any more.

Update

And the best, chart–topping reason of them all can be found in my very next post!

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#meme15

The Twitters

Jason has asked about our Twitter usage, specifically how it has helped us as DBAs or developers, or in our careers as general.

Microblog… Something Else… Profit!

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A Big, Wooden Twitter!

I didn’t get Twitter at first. I thought that it was a service for self-involved folks to talk incessantly about what they ate at each meal. I sometimes fail in having the best confidence, and I thought, “Who would even care to learn about what I ate?”

But I didn’t get Twitter; I didn’t understand how people were using it. Sure, there are plenty of people who Tweet about what they ate for lunch, what they bought at the store, what location they just checked in to (and that you are free to rob their houses while they’re away) – and even I’m guilty of such behavior from time to time – but this isn’t want Twitter is about. Twitter isn’t about broadcasting; it’s about having conversations.

Twitter is a public, global chat room, except it’s cooler than AOL ever was and you can tune in to just the people you want to hear.

How I Use Twitter

When I was unceremoniously handed the role of Accidental DBA, I was alone. I had no one to go to with questions. I didn’t even have the support of the IT department. What I had was a SQL Server database, the knowledge of how to restart IIS via Command Line (seriously, don’t ask…), and a lot of questions around, “How would I even know if something were going wrong?”

Like any good geek, I turned to Google for answers. But it wasn’t until I ran across Brent Ozar’s blog and found his Simple Twitter book that I was sold enough to give Twitter a try.

Twitter saved me. Twitter became my support system at work. Twitter became a way to ask questions, double check assumptions, verify functionality, and blow off steam. Twitter became a way to find new blogs to read, and to share new blogs that I’ve written. Simply watching the #SQLHelp hashtag through the day opened me to new and often-times esoteric knowledge that I probably wouldn’t have encountered on my own.

How Should You Use Twitter?

Well, you first have to sign up for an account! After that, download a Twitter client to help you manage it. In the past I would’ve easily recommended TweetDeck, but they’ve made some changes to their app recently that I don’t fully approve but at least you can run it in a browser. (Yeah, I know: it’s free so get over it.) Do some searches for #SQLServer, #SQLHelp, #SQLPeople and #SQLPass to find some interesting and knowledgeable people to follow. And then…

Jump into the conversation! Offer your opinion, help in answering a question. Don’t hesitate, don’t become a lurker. Like I mentioned, Twitter is about conversation, and sure, you’ll often times jump in right in the middle of things, but that’s how the SQL Community rolls on Twitter. And it’s funny how a conversation can thread from clustering to coffee to bacon in a matter of minutes.

Come and join in!

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#meme15

Blog Cause I Wanna

Jason Strate is launching a new blogging series entitled #meme15. It attempts to give some blogging fodder for the 15th of each month. This first topic is about Meta-Blogging. (Blogging about blogging.) Jason’s asked why did we first begin to blog, and why do we keep blogging?

In the Beginning

Darkness, light, creation, and all that jazz. I’ve blogged before I came to the SQL Server community, and before I identified as a technologist at all. My blogging was a mix between the personal and the DC art world. Those sites are gone now, save for in the Way Back Machine. (Asides: I tried to grab a screenshot, but they didn’t have any nice looking ones.)

And Forever Continuing

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Analog Blogs

I blog primarily because I like to share things. Sometimes it’s personal information about what’s happening in my life. Now I tend to focus on sharing knowledge about SQL Server and design topics. But I’m always sharing.

I blog because I enjoy writing. While I do have periods of writer’s block, I don’t have trouble with the blank page. I’ve learned to turn off my inner editor. I’ve learned to have fun in communicating, because if you don’t get enjoyment out of the activity, why the hell do it? (Not always true, of course, but especially true for blogging to a community that has many fantastic resources already.)

I blog because I think it’s helped to open up opportunities to me. It’s drawn me into becoming a presenter for the community. I’ve been approached about writing articles. It hasn’t helped to land me that Dream Gig (yet), but I don’t feel it’s hurt me either. I don’t think Andy and Brian would have asked me to join SQLPeople if I hadn’t been an active writer.

Lesson: It Really is About You

Like many others, I don’t blog for the page views or the visitor stats. I don’t blog because I make any money. I’ll admit that sometimes the analytics psych me out, but in comparison to my pre-SQL Server blogging, it’s the difference between night and day.

One of the main reasons I continue to blog is I feel that I’ve found the right audience. Despite all the great resources available, this community hungers for more. We all share the same voracious appetite for information. And there’s enough depth to the technology that there’s plenty of room for all kinds of content ranging from novice to expert level topics.

For all those writers out there, and for those that would like to begin writing, here is an important lesson: work on style and content, yes, but also find the right audience for your work. It’s critical that you do. The right audience will love the hard work you’re doing for them, and they’ll return the favor by spreading your work further. More, those people make all that work a pleasure.

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